The City of Moose Jaw has hired consulting firm E. Lees & Associates Consulting Ltd. to assist in the creation of a Trails and Pathways Master Plan.

The plan will help guide the development of a comprehensive, destination-based trail network as part of a greater active transportation network within Moose Jaw over the next decade.

"What we want to do is develop a strategy to ensure that our trails and pathways system is fully interconnected, that it's available for a wide range of uses and really look at all the different opportunities within our network," explained Parks and Recreation Director Derek Blais. "A lot of our network was developed just as new developments came on and now we want to find a way to make sure that it's connected."

Blais says they want to review all of the accessibility concerns that there are within the pathway network, in addition to any safety concerns that might be there as well as opportunities to improve the amenities along the pathway system.

The goal is to develop a prioritized capital plan to start addressing some of these issues.

The City of Moose Jaw received a $45,000 grant from the federal government through the Active Transportation Fund to complete the planning portion of the project. Blais notes they'll use the plan to apply for capital dollars to get some of the work completed.

"We have over 40 km of trail. Not all of that is used year-round, so that's another thing we want to be looking at, is trying to open up some more of our trails for year-round usage and looking at some opportunities there," he added.

The trail system has many uses including exercise, events (fun runs), and active transportation just to name a few.

A public survey has been launched to help guide the planning process. The deadline to respond is Monday, March 13.

"Our goal is to have the plan fully adopted by the end of June so that we can potentially [undertake] some of the capital work in the fall. We do have some capital dollars assigned here in 2023," added Blais.

Phase one of the project started in December with a full background review. Phase two is underway now with community and stakeholder engagement which includes the public survey. There are some stakeholder sessions booked throughout the week as well. Phase three will include the first draft of the Trails and Pathways Master Plan. The fourth phase will go back to the community with the presentation of the draft to ensure that a lot of the feedback that was provided was incorporated into the plan. The final phase in June will be to finalize the plan and present it to city council for final adoption.